Assessing Fault if Injured While Jaywalking

October 31, 2016

Jaywalking is something many of us do, especially in crowded downtown areas. Rather than waiting for the walking sign that we know never seems to come, we walk half way down the block and cut across the street. However, if you jaywalk, you put yourself at risk of getting injured. You also put yourself at risk potentially for being at fault or partially at fault for the accident.

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (“ICBC”) maintains statistics on motor vehicle accidents, including those involving pedestrians. Each year, for children with ages ranging from five to eighteen, approximately 300 children are injured in an accident. Of those nearly 300, five of those children will suffer from injuries that lead to their death.

British Columbia has been taking serious steps to address these issues. ICBC has done their part and provides free road safety materials to school aged children in BC to increase pedestrian safety. The province has also instituted higher tickets for drivers caught speeding in school zones.

While we can toughen our laws and educate the public, we continue to see accidents involving jaywalking. These can cause serious injuries because when pedestrians are involved in accidents there is no protection from the vehicle. There may be mixed liability, but it is important to contact a personal injury lawyer for more information.

How to Determine Fault

In accidents involving pedestrians and motor vehicles, everyone owes their fellow road users a duty of care. The standard of care requires that the parties to act reasonably and obey the law to ensure each other’s safety.

Under the Motor Vehicle Act (the “Act”) there are clear rules about the rights of way between vehicles and pedestrians. The key rules are found in sections 179 and 180. One key rule is that the car’s driver shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian where they are at an intersection that has controls over traffic, such as signs or lights, and the pedestrian is crossing in a crosswalk.

There is also a corresponding requirement that a pedestrian, whether he or she is a walker, jogger or runner, not step from the curb or other place of safety when it is unsafe to do so. The Act prohibits walking into the path of a car, truck or motorcycle that is so close that the driver cannot practically speaking yield to the pedestrian.

These rules also apply to how vehicles must approach each other at such a crosswalk. When a vehicle in compliance with the law stops at the crosswalk – no other driver is permitted to pass. Pedestrians should be mindful that where there is no crosswalk, the pedestrian must yield to the driver.

These are just the basic rules. Beyond the statute, all drivers are required to take due care to avoid collisions with pedestrians on the highway. When drivers are approaching a pedestrian, he or she must give proper warning to the pedestrian. The proper warning should include sounding the horn as required. Drivers should also be careful to observe precautions as appropriate for vulnerable pedestrians such as children or confused or incapacitate persons.

Where Accidents Occur Mostly and Why

There is one part of the road that is known as a hot spot for pedestrian accidents and that is intersections. While jay walking is conventionally thought of as happening mid-way through the street, often jay walking includes walking outside the crosswalk – even if it is only one to two feet outside of it. In seven out of ten cases where pedestrians are killed in accidents, it is because the driver failed to yield to the pedestrian at an intersection.

Distractions make intersections even more dangerous. Whether it is a pedestrian walking while texting or blasting a podcast from their iPod or a driver struggling with Bluetooth or Google Maps, distractions make a high risk area, even riskier.

Tips for Pedestrians

It is important that pedestrians take steps to follow all traffic laws to the extent it is possible. Most accident occur in intersections, so it is crucial to be especially cautious at or near intersections. If you are a runner, try to avoid travelling too early in the morning or late in the evening when it is dark. If you are going to walk or run at this time, you should make sure to wear reflective clothing. It is safest to have your full attention on the road and avoid listening to music. Be mindful that electric vehicles make little to no noise – you will not hear them coming even with your volume on low.

Even if you take all of these precautions, there is still a risk of a pedestrian motor vehicle accident.

What If You Are Injured While Jaywalking?

First, if you are a pedestrian injured in a motor vehicle accident, you should immediately seek medical attention. If you are in a stable condition, you should consider obtaining evidence to support your case, such as getting contact information from other witnesses at the scene, taking photos of the vehicle that hit you and the intersection.

After the accident, but before taking any further steps, you should contact a trusted BC personal injury lawyer in Coquitlam. Our lawyers can provide you with ICBC claim assistance whether or not you were jaywalking. Contact a Spraggs & Co. an injury lawyer in Coquitlam at 1-866-939-3339.

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